Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

The untapped value of your local library: Library-hacking in 2024 | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


In the age of technology and digital ease, there are a few age-old resources we often overlook. Some of the most commonly underestimated resources in today’s day and age are libraries. Libraries aren’t just places to borrow bound books anymore – they also offer a plethora of free digital perks and community-building tools that are as valuable, important, and relevant as ever!

This week, I want to share my tips on hacking your local library to uncover their often untapped potential.

Additional resources in libraries

Libraries offer a plethora of resources other than just bound books. On top of offering digital books and audiobooks for library members, libraries offer tons of community-based activities. From clubs, events, and free classes for children and adults, to job fairs and seminars. Libraries also sometimes offer things in the vein of expensive crafting equipment, like sewing machines, and tech, such as podcasting equipment!

Many branches across the country offer digital books through platforms like Libby, which is a digital book collection that also connects with reading digital reading platforms such as Amazon Kindle. Another similar platform that can be found through your library is hoopla, which can be used on your computer, smartphone, tablet, and even your smart TV! It’s important to note that hoopla’s library collection is fixed, meaning you can’t request for books that are unavailable on the platform to be added.

These sorts of platforms offer more than just books, though! They also offer audiobooks, comics, manga, movies, music, and TV shows.

Libraries also tend to offer things like access to genealogy websites (such as ancestry.com) for free to its members for research purposes. They also tend to offer connections to access free or affordable counseling or health checks.

Not to mention that certain major education platforms, such as the Great Courses, can be accessed for free if you use your library card when signing up. You can even access programs such as Udemy, Mango Languages, and more using your full access library card! You can also access databases of various comic book publishers, if that floats your boat. Whatever it is you need, chances are your library can, at a minimum, help you find what you need for free or for a price you can afford.

If you’re starting a new business or work from home and find yourself needing access to WiFi, fax machines/printer/scanners, a dedicated workspace, or really anything else an office would provide, your library has got you covered! Additionally, if you’re looking for a tutor or assistance in higher education, libraries tend to have affordable resources for these sorts of services, too.

What are inter-library loans?

Inter-library loans (ILL) are some of the best library services that are a direct result of the digital age. Inter-library loans are agreements between libraries domestically and internationally to share their collections. This includes a range of materials. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a specific novel at your local library branch. If your branch doesn’t have it, using the inter-library loan system, they can have it delivered from another library in the area. Moreover, it’s even faster and easier for them to share copies of digital books between one another. But this practice isn’t limited to books.

If you’re a student at a university or other higher education institution, the inter-library system connects your library to many others across the globe. This gives you free access to tons of academic resources and journals that these institutions digitally share with one another. The ability to research advanced academic sources and pay-walled journals has never been cheaper or easier for students in any phase of their academic career.

It’s important to note that using the ILL system can sometimes cost the borrower a small fee, depending on what it is you’re looking to borrow and for what duration of time. These fees vary from institution to institution. Generally, this only goes for rarer/costly materials, like expensive items or academic journals/articles.

Other considerations

There are a few other points to mention. First of all, if you travel between cities a lot for any reason, there are some libraries that are willing to give cards to you even if you aren’t a local. However, keep in mind this varies by city, state, and country. However, no matter where you are, remember that going to the library to use their resources doesn’t require you to be a member. You only need to be a member in order to take and borrow things.

Also, if you wish to become a member of a library in an adjacent county, some counties allow this. Do check the library’s website to verify, but generally this isn’t a huge deal, especially if you happen to live closer to that library’s location than your own county’s library.

Final thoughts

Your local library is a whole world of untapped resources, begging for you to use them. Especially if you’re a student at any level, love to learn, or just want something to do other than scroll on your phone during your free time, I highly recommend finding your local library and becoming a member.

If you want to learn even more library hacks and how to get the full benefits out of being a member, there are tons of YouTube videos online that are great resources for helping you discover just how much your library truly offers.

The next time you have a paper coming up, need to put together a work presentation, or simply want to do research for a personal project, absolutely hit up your local library to do so. Every resource you could ever need or hope for will be right at your fingertips, and you’ll be able to access the collections of tons of other libraries, all from the comfort of your local branch.

Josh Elledge is a syndicated newspaper columnist with over 12 years of experience covering consumer advocacy. His work spotlights money-saving skills, strategic shopping and financial life hacks.

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